Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Finding ways to win

Sim and I talked yesterday about the early success of the Dodgers. In the course of my morning perusal of all things fantasy-baseball related, I ran across this blurb:

1. Who deserves credit for the Los Angeles Dodgers having the best record in baseball? I think Jim Tracy deserves a lot of credit. He's one of the more well-respected managers in the game today. He gets a lot out of the talent on the Dodgers roster, and the players play hard for him. He gets the most out of everybody.

If J.D. Drew and Hee Seop Choi begin to hit – and Eric Gagne gets healthy – that'll only make this team better. The Dodgers are on a roll, and winning is something you get used to. I still think they'll have plenty of competition from the San Francisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks and possibly the San Diego Padres, but L.A. seems to have the upper hand on the NL West for now.

I thought it'd be hard for the Dodgers to replace Shawn Green and Adrian Beltre. But they've gotten some surprisingly good pitching, Odalis Perez and Jeff Weaver in particular, and they've gotten run production from Jeff Kent, Milton Bradley, Jose Valentin, Ricky Ledee and Cesar Izturis. Those guys are really picking up the slack. And the Dodgers are finding a way to win ball games.

If you recall, I asserted that perhaps Jim Tracy is right in saying that Milton Bradley right now is the 'X-factor' for this team. Sandberg gives Tracy the credit and in fact Bradley did as well after their win in Game 1 of the Milwaukee series:

"Tracy, he just puts people in position to be successful," said Bradley, who was moved up from his usual fifth spot in the batting order to third. "Tracy knows how we're going to do it. He figures that out."

Regardless of whether it's Tracy, Bradley, Kent or some other combination of roster spots, Sandberg is right; this team is finding ways to win games that in past years they didn't. This is obvious to long-suffering Dodger fans like myself.

I knew the 2000 NBA Champion Lakers were different when I saw them winning games that they shouldn't have won. You know, the 12-point deficits in the 4th quarter on the road. Things like that hadn't happened regularly since a certain guy named Earvin wore number 32.

Just so Sim jumps to no conclusions here, I'm not arguing that the Dodgers season will end similarly--it's simply too early to say any such thing--but I am saying that there just might be something to this team after all!

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